Chances are that if you are not an only child, you have had some sort of conflict with one of your siblings. Sibling rivalries are very normal and happen to most families. Now that you have children of your own you can probably relate to how they are feeling because you have gone through the same thing. But how can you make the outcome better for your kids? How can you keep the peace despite sibling rivalries?
There are many suggestions floating out there and depending on your situation you may be better off following some tips and not others. Here are some such tips to get you started.
•Stop common sibling rivalry problems before they start – Many sibling rivalry problems begin when an older sibling is first introduced to a new younger sibling. Older siblings can feel a lot of anxiety over the addition of a new family member. Mom and Dad often divert the majority of their attention to the new baby. Older brothers and sisters commonly develop issues of jealousy and feelings of dislike for this baby because they have had to compromise the attention that they get because the baby needs to be taken care of. As parents you can do a lot to prevent sibling rivalries that are a result of this sort of situation by preparing your other child or children for the arrival of the new baby. Preparing them will not leave them in such shock once your baby arrives. Let them talk to their younger sibling, tell them that babies need more help doing and getting the things that they need. Get your other children excited about having a sibling.
•Encourage an attitude of sharing – Many issues of sibling rivalry stem from the fact that one sibling has something that the other one wants. Therefore, fostering an environment where sharing is expected by all family members can help to alleviate the arguments that feature the ever popular word, “mine.” As a parent try to share your time evenly with your children. Let each one of them feel like you treat all your children equally, just as they should treat each other equally well.
•Stay positive and run a harmonious home – Children feed off of the energy that is in their home. If people are constantly coming and going, the TV is always blaring, Mom is always distracted with something, etc. the kids will feed off of those negative vibes and act out. If on the other hand you can create a harmonious home where everyone (parents especially) speak kindly and act respectfully, you can bet that your kids will be less likely to become rivals with one another.
•Teach children to be sensitive to the feelings of others – Sibling rivalries occur for many reasons. But ultimately there is always at least one member of the rivalry who will end up getting hurt or feeling sad. By handling situations in terms of how one child’s actions effected the way that the other child feels, there is a greater depth added to the lesson. We can reflect back on how we felt when we were sad and not want to be responsible for making someone else feel that way.
•Foster the family – Ultimately you should be able to keep the peace in your home despite the sibling rivalries because deep down everyone knows that they are part of a family that loves them, siblings included. Encourage family activities and opportunities where conflicting siblings can work together to accomplish something positive together. Remember to teach the concept of family unity early on in life. A child desperately needs this stable foundation to fall back on when other kids at school or anyone looking to be a negative influence tries to manipulate those family connections.